Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Five Million Leaves

It was high summer the first time we saw the house. The yard had umpteen trees, but I didn't see any fallen leaves. The patios and yard were pristine. I never really thought what would happen when autumn arrived, seeing as I'd lived on a bald hilltop for a decade. Trees were a novelty. I hadn't raked a leaf in years. 
Below, you can see an old picture of the house, circa 2014 (winter). This is the pool/patio area. Beyond the fenced area is a lawn (and an old barn). Everything was tidy, immaculate.

Mid-Summer 2014

Tyler and Zap, late Summer 2014.
After we bought the property, it looked stark without the previous owner's beautiful touches. In fact, the whole place looked tired and sad. The empty house had lost its sparkle and personality.

Fall 2015
By this time, the house wasn't empty, but the patio sure wasn't tidy. Clean-up would have to wait a bit longer, because winter was on the way.

Winter 2016
Waterlogged leaves piled up in front of the pool house (and everywhere else). At this point, blowing them with our dinky blower was an exercise in futility. We needed a shovel.

Summer 2016. 
The clean up begins.
Finally, the leaves are gone, but during the winter, a few billion had managed to slip beneath the pool cover, turning the water into a place where The Creature from the Deep might live.

Now that we are starting to clean the area, we see what must be done. For one thing, the concrete needs power washing. 

Here and there, I'm trying to make the space cozy and functional. A few more potted flowers would add cheer. An umbrella would add a holiday mood. Bandwidth needs to find a spot to store his grilling stuff (charcoal, tongs, etc). And we'll need to haul the pool cover to the barn. The space under the balcony has potential (I just can't see it yet).

Lighting is a problem. The exterior lanterns (round room) were misplaced during the remodeling, and by the time I unearthed them, the electricians were booked. But we'll get them installed eventually. Also, last summer, when stone was installed in the sun room, many faux stones (not pictured) were left behind. By the way, they are just as heavy as real ones. After carting them to the garage, I spent three days with a heating pad, taking Advil. Luckily, I bounced back, ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Even though we still have lots of cleaning to do, I just had to "nest." You may remember my little iron and glass table. Here's an old photo:

It found a home on the patio. I've been in a painting frenzy here lately, and that's a good thing because the table and chairs need a little love.

I bought a steel brush and white paint.

  Before the 94 degree temps hit, I planted a few hydrangeas. I've been watering them every evening, but they could probably use an AM watering, too.

Update: I just got word that the lanterns will be installed. Yay!

Let's walk around the pool house. Five gorgeous pink hydrangeas are blooming here.

You can see why we have a billion leaves, right? But I do love this tree. 

Here is a photo of the Memory Garden, early spring 2016. 

I tried to remove the dead rose bushes, but I was too puny. 

Early June, 2016. 
I have many dreams for this garden, but it's the sort of place that will be landscaped in segments--body, mind, and pocketbook willing.  The rose bushes are still there, and, bless their hearts, they are trying to leaf out. My mother told me to sprinkle Epsom Salt around the base of the magnolia, as it looks sickly, all of a sudden.

On the other side of the Memory Garden, a small (empty) garden is bordered by burning bushes. I love the stepping stones.

There's so much to do at this house, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I constantly remind myself that progress has been made. I'm slow. But I'm getting there bit by bit. So far, I've cleaned and fixed up the upper porch and the lower porch (I call it the "Underporch").

I tidied the "plant experiment" section, including Arbor Day trees and three grafted apple trees.

And I painted a few old tables.

The pool area is a special case. You can't turn your back on it a second.

A guest told us that the previous owners had waged war against the leaves. They cleaned the pool every day, but they still needed a pool service. Also, they blew off the concrete daily. That sounds like a plan. Heaven knows I need the exercise. 

And you never know who'll stop by.

Today, while I was working on the patio, I heard a lady-like meow. I looked up at the balcony and spotted the neighborhood cat. I meowed back (and I'm not ashamed to admit that at all :-)).

She's a very sweet little visitor.

I named her Gladys.


  1. I live on the edge of the woods with even more big trees right in my back yard. It is a love hate relationship and I do end up using the leaf blower on my patio most days. The sound of the breeze blowing the leaves and the sun dappled light is worth the work, but hire someone to help remove leaves come fall or it's easy to get overwhelmed when they begin to rain down.

  2. You have a lot of outdoor spaces to care for, and the plantings around the pool look beautiful- your gardens are incredible with the winding paths and the wonderful shed. I know you'll have a busy summer in your new digs!

  3. Everything looks so incredibly beautiful when natures explodes!


  4. Oh my word, so much work, but it is shaping up nicely. Ilove it.

  5. Just left a comment, but it vanished. Will try again.

  6. It will be gorgeous. My daughter and son in law just bought a house with a pool. Getting it ready for summer is a learning experience! But each year will be easier and your yard will just become more and more your own!

  7. I just have to say it again, I love reading here and looking at your photo's.

  8. This was a very enjoyable posting. It took me back in time to one of the houses my ex husband and I purchased and I remember all the projects that needed attention. I also was a bit overwhelmed. But in retrospect, I recognize that those days were very, very happy ones, and that I liked having a challenge. I found great satisfaction in restoring, re-imaging, and re-doing all those projects.

  9. Hard work brings sweet rewards. Good luck in all of your doings. I would need extra Advil, for sure.

  10. Oh boy that's too bad about the leaves and the pool. Living where I do we have a lot of maintenance from the leaves so I know what it's al about. Yes frequent blowing is necessary. I lost my magnolia a few years ago. It has some disease- there were black spots in the bark of the trunk. From what I read there was nothing I could do for it. One person told me I may have been able to save it but it would take 3 years of treatment (I don't remember what she said for the treatment). You found yourself a real gem though it may work you to death! LOL... Not really but you know what I mean!

  11. Your place is beautiful. Slow and steady wins the race. Just start from your inner circle and work your way out, and if the outer bands grow wild, so what? You can always tackle them later. :)

  12. Whoa, that's a lot of maintenance! Slow and steady wins the race as I always say, so don't over-do. It IS looking very pretty though! Cats seem to have an innate sense of the friendly homes they can visit, so it's likely you'll have some company from now on. I know you're not encouraging "Gladys" (cough, cough)!

  13. A few days of working and a bottle of eleve for me. Ha ha ha I think everything looks wonderful. Until a magic fairy shows up to do the jobs you want done the house will have to be satisfied to work at your pace! I have had some new bushes and grasses planted and I am out there bending, stretching and watering them every day. Good exercise...and I found out that I am low in vitamin D, so the sunshine is something I need to catch up on. Sheila

  14. We have a rural property with woods to the north. Leaves are beautiful but piles and piles of them can overwhelm to be sure. (not to mention, when wet, ignite allergies) We have figured out tricks and timing over the years to keep on top of them. The best is to hire them done! Last year was the first time and will be calling the service into action again this fall. Saves so much time both in the Fall and Spring. Somehow with all the equipment they use ,they get more and clean up better than we did. Had less to deal with this Spring as
    well. Your place is a sanctuary and your touches are making it beautiful.

  15. There is definitely a love-hate relationship when you have trees, but honestly I can't imagine living without them. I try to think of falling leaves in poetic terms. When they fall to the ground, they are Mother Nature's way of putting a warm blanket on our gardens in time for the cold winter months. Of course what happens in reality is they accumulate in gutters, pools and wherever you don't want them, too. :-)

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  16. I'm excited just looking at all the potential you have for creating special places! And you have done so much already. You must feel good! I hope you are starting to enjoy some relaxing time in your beautiful pool! I always come up with ideas while floating peacefully along, just listening to the lapping of the water and feeling the warm sun. I hope your magnolia recovers. Linda